NEW YORK -- First came the terror
attacks in September. Then came the outpouring of support and
money for the victims and their families. And then came Bill
O’Reilly asking the hard questions.
The host of the FOX News Channel’s hit
program The O’Reilly Factor was the first
to demand answers from officials at The American Red Cross,
United Way and other groups about where the money many Americans
had donated to their organizations was really going. He also
asked when the people who came to be known as the "9/11 families"
would actually receive some of the billions of dollars that
had been collected on their behalf.
When the answers were squishy and vague, O’Reilly
created a firestorm in Hollywood by demanding accountability,
not only from the charities but also from the celebrities who
used their fame to get ordinary citizens to open their hearts
-- and wallets -- for the victims, despite their own private
"The day after September 11th, I called six
celebrities myself, crying, in the morning," Rosie O'Donnell
told O'Reilly. "I said, 'I want to throw light into the dark.
Give me a million dollars -- and we'll make a $20 million donation.
All of them said no ... in America, you should expect your millionaires
to give millions -- especially if they're going to stand on
TV and ask the peasants for pennies."
O'Reilly draws on his experiences with the
Sept. 11 charity controversy in his latest FOX network special.
More than eight months after the terror attacks, the Fox News
anchor offers viewers a unique look at celebrity activism. The
hour-long broadcast is called An O'Reilly Factor Special:
O'Reilly vs. Hollywood. It airs Friday at 9 p.m. EDT/PST.
There's no question that popular entertainers
in America occupy a powerful place in its culture. Famous actors,
television stars and musicians routinely raise money for political
causes and politicians; they attract attention by speaking out
about controversial issues like abortion, gun control or gay
adoption. And when an entertainer embraces or mocks the president
or some other politician, it always gets noticed.
But is all this power and influence being
used to do good, or is it being misused by people more interested
in their own success than the welfare of their country? O'Reilly
descends on Hollywood and finds some unusual answers. Among
the celebrities featured in the broadcast are O'Donnell, Ben
Stiller, Janeane Garafolo, Billy Baldwin and Jon Stewart.
Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's The
Daily Show , thinks that much of young America doesn't care
about what activist-actors have to say. "The majority of activist
celebrities are not within the realm of young people's scope,"
he told O'Reilly. "You know, I don't think the kids at the raves
are going 'I'll tell you, Cher and Alec Baldwin -- they speak